Sun, Aug 10, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Taiwanese cheerleaders blocked at Beijing airport

‘THERE’S A PROBLEM’ After an hour of questioning by police, Cheerleading Squad for Taiwan members were told “higher-ups” said they must be sent back to Taipei

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

Cheerleading Squad for Taiwan captain Yang Hui-ju (楊蕙如) was refused entry to China at the Beijing airport yesterday and forced to return to Taiwan.

Yang arrived at Beijing International Airport at 3:20pm. Instead of going through immigration and customs, however, she was “escorted somewhere for further inquiries,” Yang told news channel ETTV by cellphone yesterday.

Yang, who campaigned for former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) during the presidential race, told ETTV that she was denied entry to China and put immediately on a return flight to Taiwan.

Commenting later during her transit in Hong Kong, Yang told TVBS that Beijing airport police had examined her Taiwan compatriot entry permit and muttered: “There’s a problem.”

The police then took Yang and her companion to a questioning room and looked through her bags, she said.

‘WHY CHEER?’


Yang said the airport police asked her why she was visiting China, to which she responded: “I’ve come to cheer for Taiwan.”

The police asked Yang how many matches she would attend to cheer for Taiwan and she replied “maybe seven or eight games.”

“Why cheer at so many games?” the police responded, Yang said.

After an hour of questioning, Yang said the airport police said “higher-ups” had “ordered” that she and her friend be sent back immediately. They were put on a flight to Hong Kong.

Yang organized the cheerleading squad years ago to support Taiwanese athletes at international competitions. Last year the squad traveled to New York to cheer for New York Yankees pitcher Wang Chien-ming (王建民).

NO NATIONAL SYMBOLS


The cheerleader squad normally dons yellow uniforms bearing the Taiwanese flag and the English slogan: “Taiwan Woo!”

They also normally wave Taiwanese flags as part of their routine.

But the cheerleading squad had said it would drop the national symbols to cheer for the nation’s athletes in Beijing.

“I won’t bring any flags — including the national flag — and will not bring banners that are too eye-catching either,” Yang told a news conference last week in Taipei. “Chinese laws are unpredictable, no one knows what would happen if you were to break the rules of the Games.”

In related news, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) yesterday visited the Athletes’ Village in Beijing to cheer the nation’s delegation and present the members with NT$200,000 in spending money.

Wu was accompanied by KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), Legislative Yuan Deputy Speaker Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) and other top officials.

Speaking about the baseball team’s first game of the Olympics — scheduled for Wednesday against the Netherlands — Wu Poh-hsiung said China-based Taiwanese businessmen had bought most of the tickets, ensuring a “Taiwanese cheerleading squad.”

If you factor in the support of Chinese spectators for Taiwan’s team, it will virtually have a “home field advantage,” he said.

When approached for comment on Wu Poh-hsiung’s visit to the Olympic Games, DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in Taipei yesterday that as the leader of Taiwan’s governing party, Wu Poh-hsiung should exercise caution, lest he give the impression that “Taiwan is part of China.”

Tsai said Wu’s remark about a “home field advantage” was regrettable and disappointing. Such a remark undermines the nation’s status as a sovereign state, she said.

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